Scandals! The Bad News Power Rankings

Jay Carney faced the press today, and… Yikes!  That was rough!

On some level, you have to respect Carney.  He could have woken up, faxed in a resignation Pat Riley style, rented an office near Farragut Square and started counting money.   Instead, he chose to answer questions in the face of Scandalpalooza.  And even if he had a rough day, none of the scandals are impeachable.

They are damaging, though.  In fact, the last week and a half has heaped layer after layer of bad news on the White House doorstep.  The mid-term elections are now 18 months away, and the window for putting up any meaningful legislative wins is maybe 10-12 months.  President will have a tougher time advancing his agenda while responding to all the bad news.  Ranked below are the President’s top speed bumps (that we know about so far today), with 1 being the most disruptive to the President’s agenda and 5 the least:

  1. DOJ vs. AP  – People appreciate unfairness, so the IRS scandal will have legs.  But no reporter will have any trouble understanding the First Amendment threats posed by the Justice Department skimming reporters’ phone records.
  2. IRS vs. Tea Party Groups – Political players wielding government power against their enemies is easy to understand, and makes for a simple story to write.
  3. Benghazi – Really, what’s the worst part?  The administration’s keystone response to the embassy attack?  The lies about what caused the attack?  The fact that it looks like the President and his underlings were less than forthcoming due to the impending election?  This is pretty complex – for scandals looking to catch on, complex is bad.
  4. Gosnell – During the election cycle, progressive groups tried (largely successfully) to reframe the abortion debate by talking about narrow hypotheticals.  From the White House’s perspective, the silver lining of the week’s tri-scandals is that it takes mainstream attention away from the Gosnell verdict.  It will help motivate pro-life advocates, but its broader messaging implications will be muted.
  5. Obamacare – Small business owners are already feeling the pinch.  Kathleen Sebelius has been doing her “Secretary BoJangles” routine trying to fund advertising and encourage signups (like it’s some kind of high school club).

(If I missed anything, or if you disagree, leave a comment or yell at me on Twitter.)

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